University of Louisville Student Allowed to Return to LGBTQ Class He Harassed

Students have planned a protest opposing the decision.

Staff and students at the University of Louisville are expressing upset over the college’s decision to allow a student to return to an LGBTQ class in which he is enrolled after he passed out anti-gay literature to his classmates.

Kaila Story, an associate professor at the school, told the Courier-Journal the student came to her Introduction to LGBTQ Studies class last week, handed out the anti-LGBTQ pamphlets, and then “lurked outside.”

The pamphlet, published by the evangelical group Living Waters Publications, is titled God & Sexuality and authored by Ray Comfort, known for his friendship with Kirk Cameron and for arguing that bananas prove creationism, earning him the nickname “the banana man.” A description of the pamphlet from the group’s site says it “tastefully” answers questions like: “Are gays ’born that way?'” and, “What’s wrong with gay marriage?”

According to the Courier-Journal, it includes a passage comparing being gay with sitting in a parked car on railroad tracks.

Story reported the incident to department heads, who took the issue to the college’s administrators, who decided he could return to the class as long as he gave 48 hours notice. University spokesman John Karman said school officials met with both Story and the student regarding the situation. Karman added the student assured them “his intention was only to provide information rather than to intimidate.” Karman also argued “he apparently followed the law and university policy when distributing the literature.”

The college is governed by the Campus Free Speech Act, which provides a lot of space for speech on campus, be it written or verbal, including with political and religious messaging.

Story said she is “beyond disturbed” with the decision, saying she and her students will not tolerate the “blatant disregard” for their concerns. Pan-African studies department chair Ricky Jones also expressed concern over what he characterized as “an issue of hate speech” and “harassment.”

“I should not be afraid to learn my history. I should not be afraid to attend a class,” said Kaelan Strom, a student in the class. “I should not be afraid that things may escalate.”

Storm’s classmate Charlotte Haydon called the incident “distressing,” adding that the response from university officials resulted in a feeling of being unsafe.

Students have planned an on-campus protest for Thursday, at 1pm.

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